Complacency Kills…


I weaned myself off of my antidepressants four months ago.

They had been prescribed for ‘situational’ depression. I’d been taking them for years. My ‘situation’ had not improved, nor would it. I don’t recommend this to everyone, certainly wouldn’t, without the guidance of their physician, but I knew that I shouldn’t, couldn’t, take them anymore.

“They’ve made me complacent,” I told my doctor.

I didn’t want to be complacent. Not anymore.

I have been ‘out’ since I was nineteen and moved away from home, spent ten years in a city that gave me what I needed, access to people ‘like me,’ followed by friendships, relationships, and activities that let me be true to myself, and therefore, true to everyone else, both on and off the job. I stayed ‘out’ when I moved to my parents’ town.

I’m in a small, rural, southern town in a ‘red’ state, a state that has a legislature comprised almost solely of white men who are trying to pass laws that would turn back time, take the state and, in their last, best hope, the country, back to the 1950s. They are trying to legislate my people back into the closet, and, being ‘female,’ back into the kitchen. Trying to legislate the poor back into the fields and the warehouses by gutting education funding. Trying to rig elections by passing the ‘first cousins’ of Jim Crow laws. Their ‘rule of law’ is based on the Bible, or rather, their interpretation of it, where they, as white men, are at the top of the heap, standing on the backs of the people who’d elected them, their sheep, who are easily frightened by the slightest noises of the things they don’t understand, do not wish to comprehend, or even acknowledge.

I’m in a small, rural, southern town with no one to call my own. And no way of finding anyone.

I weaned myself off of my antidepressants four months ago.

And, I’m a little angry.

At myself, for letting so much time pass, for not leaving sooner, for the sake of a pay check. I’ve been here over twenty-five years, moving here in the year of my thirtieth birthday, when I realized that my parents had gotten ‘old,’ that, if I wanted to be with them again, I would have to join them in this backwards state. So, I did.

I lost my mother to cancer fifteen years ago. I had twelve years with her before I lost her, had spent nine of those years in a relationship with a woman, a relationship that had ended so, so badly, and when I returned to my parents, there was even less time left. A little less than two years with my mother. Another five with my father, but he was not my ‘hero,’ his bad choices had left me to claw my way through life, unable to afford both college and a roof over my head, settling for the roof. I had been angry at my mother, years ago, for not leaving him, for not breaking free from the vicious cycle of joblessness, indebtedness, that my father constantly brought upon us. She had carried us through, when my sister and I were teenagers, had somehow made ends meet. She could have done it alone, had been doing it alone, but she would not let go.

“Who will take care of him?” she’d asked.

In the end, when she died, I did. And I was angry about that. I was in Hell. Alone, in a small town, with absolutely no one, nothing to keep me sane. Except my job. The job I loved.

I am now the age my mother was when I moved here. I do not have much time left. I lost two work friends to sudden death in the last two months. They were my age, or close to it. If I’m going to be what I’ve always wanted to be, do what I’ve always wanted to do, I needed to get to work.

I weaned myself off of my antidepressants four months ago.

I had grown too comfortable with a job that, after sixteen years, I no longer loved, or even enjoyed. I was on the hamster wheel, running the same path, week after week, none of them distinguished by anything different, any one thing that would make that week any more defined from the others, by an event, or occurrence, or even a conversation outside of work.

After sixteen years, years that flew by, I’ve finally quit that job. Like all of my past relationships, it had become lop-sided, the job demanding more and more, for less and less, and if I complained, well, there’s the door. I should have left years ago, after my father died, but my job, my ‘lover,’ still loved me then, and I buried myself in ‘her.’

I weaned myself off of my antidepressants four months ago.

Thank god for computers. Thank god for the internet. Thank god for ‘chat rooms.’

I met a group of women on line, in a chat room, a group of women who were literate, thought-provoking, and funny. God, so marvelously funny. I spent my off-hours with them, all of us scattered across the world, but sitting in the same room and having conversations, good conversations, about life and loves in their worlds, books to read, shows and movies to watch, a group of women that only had one thing, really, in common, at least at first. We all loved women. That was what had brought us together, initially, this core group that played well together. I fell in love with them all, and I spent as much time as I could with them. At first, I’d sat quietly, just reading the conversations, but a topic came up that I had to comment on, so I did, and it was met with laughter, comments in return, and I was encouraged by their responses, joining in at will, less shy with each posting.

Over time, though, we were joined by more women who didn’t understand the things we were saying, could read the words but didn’t understand the context and the intent, were offended by remarks not meant to wound, and took it upon themselves to chide us for what they thought we were saying, what we hadn’t said at all, they were like children invading the grown-ups’ party, and the group, tiring of having to ‘explain’ nearly everything, fell apart, one by one.

I was alone again.

Then, later, thank god for websites that showed me what Life is like, ‘out there,’ now.

I was so far behind the times.

And I am still behind the curve when it comes to the world now. I am ashamed to say how antiquated my thinking was, may still be, to a degree, and I spend my time ‘catching up’ now, learning how far people like me have come ‘out there,’ how there are people that are not ‘like me,’ at all, with as much right to live their truest lives as I do. I am learning that there are groups of people who have found each other and created wonderful, all-inclusive websites that embrace that philosophy of living a genuine life, of finding their ways in a world that is not so black-and-white, male-and-female, as the world that I grew up in.

I am learning. Every day, I am learning. And, I am changing with it. I will be leaving this backwards, dispiriting, suppressing place, soon, I hope, and I need the education so that when I rejoin the ‘real’ world, I am not overwhelmed, like an island survivor who is rescued after thirty years and brought back to ‘civilization.’ Because that’s what I think it’s going to feel like. I don’t want to drown in the deluge of the world that I might find.

I weaned myself off of my antidepressants four months ago.

Sometimes, I wake up in the early, darkest hours of the morning. Far earlier than I ever had to when I worked. I am wide awake, staring into the darkness, excited about what I’ve done, excited with my plans, hopes, and dreams. I embrace the wakefulness, use it to my advantage, to work on my projects in the quiet, still darkness, turning out pages as my characters sometimes take over, defying what I want them to do or say, ‘going rogue’ and taking my story in a far different, but better, more honest direction. I love when that happens, it’s exhilarating when they push themselves against me, force me to sit still and listen to them, my fingers flying on the keyboard, as they tell the story their way.

Sometimes, I wake up in the early, darkest hours of the morning. And I am petrified, that what I have done is absolutely the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. Under the covers in the chilly darkness, I am convinced that I am being foolish, that what I’ve got to say isn’t worth listening to, that any book I write will never be published. My cats have taken to sleeping with me, they’ve never done it before, and the ‘Mama’ cat, a massive Siamese/tabby with crossed, stunningly blue eyes, who’s never had kittens but raised two like they were her own, has chosen to sleep next to me. She will sometimes feel my fear, will reach out to me, place a gentle paw on my forearm and purr her solace. Everything’s going to be okay.

Everything’s going to be okay.

Words to live by.

Words that I’ve said to countless people, their lives depending on me, and the staff who were with me, while we fervently worked to stop the pending death from happening.

“You’ve saved so many lives,” I was told when I resigned.

“Yes,” I said. “Now it’s time to save mine.”

I weaned myself off of my antidepressants four months ago.

Everything’s going to be okay.